The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, could become Nigeria’s 5th democratically elected president since the return of democracy in 1999, if he overcomes the first hurdle of winning the APC party ticket, and then amassing the majority votes in the 2023 presidential election. But, it’s not as easy as 123.
The All Progressives Congress, APC, is currently being choked by the personal and political interests of its members, many whom are party heavy weights seeking to succeed Buhari in about a year’s time.
While it is normal for politicians to slug it out for party tickets, Tinubu and vice President Yemi Osinbajo, are the names currently making the most headlines from the APC, for obvious reasons, of course.
Tinubu in particular, had hoped to become the APC’s first presidential candidate in the 2015 presidential election, but for some reason, most likely due to issues of zoning, Buhari’s popularity in the North, and perhaps, a political strategy to take advantage of wranglings within the Peoples Democratic Party over Jonathan’s insistence to run for a second term, may have forced him to sacrifice his ambition.
The situation in the APC, prior to the 2015 presidential election, was no different from the current crisis rocking the party. In fact, the disagreement over who should get the presidential ticket at the time, was so tense that Nigerians had thought the newly formed party would eventually collapse, but it never did. Why? Because there was a deal.
“This is an open secret. There was an implied agreement. Even in law, there is implied and expressed act. If something is expressed, there are no two ways about it. There was an implied agreement that he would take over. That is why he didn’t back out after the first tenure. If Tinubu knew that he would not benefit, he would have backed out during Buhari’s first tenure. But he knows there was an agreement,” a former member of the House of Representatives and Senator representing Kano Central, Rufai Hanga, has said in an interview with Daily Trust.
So, if you are wondering why Tinubu is pushing hard for the presidency this time around, well, it’s because it’s his turn, if at all, an agreement existed prior to Buhari emerging as the APC candidate back in 2014.
Hanga who is from the North, acknowledged Tinubu’s sacrifices saying the APC leader must have been encouraged by the belief that after Buhari, he’s the next in line regardless the ambitions of other members and opposition he’s likely to face within the party.
Tinubu’s hope of ruling the country, therefore, had a base. Buhari got the ticket he wanted, won the election, and all was fine until he secured his most precious second term in office, in an election where Tinubu once again, played significant roles. Since then, it’s been downhill for the former Lagos state governor.
Now, with all eyes set on 2023, the old debate about power rotation, and the argument that focus should be on competence, capacity, and qualifications, not on where a president comes from, resurfaced.
Even Buhari himself made clear where he belongs on the issue of power rotation, when he said during an interview with Arise Television back in June 10, 2021, that “You cannot sit there in Lagos, for instance, and decide the fate of APC on zoning. Therefore we should allow the party to decide.”
At this point, the handwriting on the wall, became bold and clear enough for all to see, except of course, Tinubu who for some reason, consider it appropriate to keep hope alive.
But while he’s at it, came what his supporters see as a deliberate attempt to sabotage Tinubu’s ambition when photos of Tinubu helping himself with a walking stick, which was shared by the presidency, soon went viral.
This move by the presidency, particularly at a time narratives where going against Tinubu over his health status, understandably left Tinubu feeling betrayed.
“Tinubu and his people are not happy that President Buhari brought NTA (Nigerian Television Authority- government-owned station) and others to visit him (during his treatment in London).”
“When Lagos governor, (Babajide) Sanwo-Olu and (Abiodun) Faleke (federal lawmaker) visited him, nothing revealed he had a surgery or was sick. But the way Buhari had his photo ops handled by the Villa was not what he (Tinubu) bargained for.
“They felt betrayed that such pictures showing him with a walking stick would be released. Note that all the pictures were released by the Presidency, ” a source closed to Tinubu had said, according to Sahara Reporters.
But if that were not damaging enough, a recent statement by Buhari where he said his age is interfering with his working capacity, is an indirect attack on Tinubu whose age is already another issue of concern.
Buhari who recently turned 79, said, “And about my age, yes, I see my colleagues, they are now resting and I assure you that I’m looking forward to the next 17 months when I too would have to be less busy.
“The age is telling on me. Working now for 6, 7, 8 hours a day in the office is no joke.”
A lot may not be in Tinubu’s favor right now, especially when rumors claim Buhari’s preferred successor is not even his vice, but Jonathan of all people.
Regardless, Tinubu has every right to keep his dream of becoming the next president, alive. It won’t be long before the APC holds its party primary. Hopefully, the party survives once again though, amid its current crisis.